Seattle-based Juliet Sander comes from a long line of family members who worked in fashion. Even her maiden name, Fabbri, loosely translates to “fabricator” in Italian, so in a lot of ways, a love for design and textiles runs deep in her blood. After a long career working in the industry as a designer for Nordstrom and professor of fashion marketing at the University of Washington (among other things), Sander decided it was time to break out on her own.
In 2019, she launched her eponymous label, Juliette Fabbri, in a series of structural, yet billowy, dresses that have a sexy and easy flair without a need for “constant repositioning or fussing.”
She’s in the midst of releasing new collections, including a collaboration with Canadian-based small batch and vintage fashion seller Boehme Goods.
To learn more, we chatted with Sander about her style philosophy and aspirations for the brand.
What led you to creating your own designs?
Since I was a teenager, I always wanted to do my own thing, but starting in fashion school, I came up with this idea to create extravagant nightgowns you could wear all day. I had been sketching and creating patterns for how I wanted to make these dresses for years, imagining them in different colors, and then Pierpaolo Piccioli (of Valentino) showed his Spring 2019 Couture, and actress Gemma Chan stunned on the red carpet in (a parachute-like Valentino gown). I realized: Dang. If I don’t do this now, I’m going to miss my window!
What do you want to stand for as a designer? What’s your mission?
As a designer, I stand for feminine strength. The volume to my pieces can be interpreted as taking up more space in the world (as I’m sure you’re aware, as women we are taught the opposite), and then my fabrics are men’s shirting. I love this idea of taking something men wear every day and creating silhouettes for women that feel comfortable and empowering, because they do not ask her to compromise.
The silhouette of your pieces is very flowy and almost reminiscent of some Japanese styles. How did you land on this shape?
I was inspired by an evening gown I saw in a magazine that was cut way more dramatically than my designs, and I loved how much fabric made up this dress. It just seemed so extravagant, and a wonderful indulgence for wearing for sleeping or other things you might do about the house or around town. But then, making it out of an everyday fabric – like men’s shirting. I love the crispness of fresh sheets and how after a night of sleeping they are crinkled just so, I and wanted that for my dresses. I have found a number of Japanese shirting fabrics that are perfect for the dresses.
Let’s talk color palette. How does color inspire you, and why did you select the earthy tones that you use?
When I lived in Colorado, before moving to Seattle, I’d often road trip to the Southwest desert: Taos, the Navajo reservation, the canyon lands of Utah and Arizona. There’s something about those rosy, earthy colors: the yellows, peaches, reds, oranges, and the big, wide blue sky. They just always made me feel like I have room to breathe and think. And I think I’m just drawn to those colors for that feeling. It never gets tired.
Do you think you’ll stick with dresses, or do you have plans to fold in other clothing categories?
I think I will always make dresses, but I have plans to add sweaters — in complementary monotone colors to the dresses, for that head-to-toe look. And I love designing and making jackets and coats and working with wool and down. I have plans to add tops and skirts, too, as I think my customer likes the layering options. But always my focus is on designing easy pieces, with my aim to create wardrobe staples that can be worn as-is or layered under and over to build a new look.